Teaching, reflecting, writing, sharing

A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch of an exhibition by students in the German department at the University of Edinburgh. The students had spent three weeks in summer 2016 volunteering as German teachers for refugees in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.

My role in the project was to deliver creative writing classes for the students as a way for them to contemplate and examine their experiences without needing to explain or define them. One of the students said, ‘It was like therapy. It was a chance to stop and think during a really busy time.’

It was a delight to see that Ellen, one of the students who came to writing class, had included two of her poems in the exhibition. They are powerful reminders of the intense encounters that we all individually experienced with people we met at the language cafe.

With grateful thanks to Ellen Smith, I include her poems below.



Hot boxed and sat opposite
With no air but each others’
He stuck up a statistic shield
Against his war,
About the war of his country,
The war in his words much different
From the war down his throat.
His eyes are betraying him,
My mind in ten places,
His mind in one.




Wie sagt man mm..?
This delicate firework
Catched between a finger and thumb
Then cupped in small hands
Wished on
Then released
A perfect orb of secrets

*A pusteblume is a dandelion clock

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